Finding Rest and Balance

There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from Him, who can eat or who can have enjoyment?—Ecclesiastes 2:24-25 (ESV)

I’ve always been active and relatively health-conscious, but in 2019, I went through a metamorphosis. I was approaching a significant milestone. I was unhappy with my weight and concerned for my longterm health, and it was time to make some changes while I still could.

I subscribed to a weight-loss plan that helped me address the psychology behind my eating behaviors. I counted calories. I bought an Apple Watch so I could track my fitness. I began jogging, something I said I would never do.

Through my fitness plan, I established multiple daily metrics—calorie counts, exercise minutes, walking/running distance, standing hours, calories burned. 

In fall 2020, I remember holding my then 27-pound puppy and realizing I had lost about that much in weight. I now weigh what I did in my 30s. It feels good. But maintaining it has been hard work.

As a classic overachieving Enneagram 3, I’m all about checking things off my lists, and I have many lists. And though I want to maintain my healthy habits, I don’t want to be controlled by them.

A Departure from My Routine

The turning point came when my husband and I left for a 10-day tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland. Each day I sat for varying lengths of time on coaches and ferries and airplanes. I had far less control of my food intake, though I had to ensure it would be gluten-free because of celiac disease.

I temporarily threw metrics out the window. My watch stayed home. My calorie-counting app remained unused. My overachieving tendencies had to be reined in so my sanity, and my husband’s, would be preserved.

I traded my usual breakfast of fresh fruit over nonfat Greek yogurt drizzled with raw honey for local fare: fried eggs with mushrooms, broiled tomatoes, fresh fruit and the best gluten-free toast I have ever had.

Two days, when other options were limited or nonexistent, I had dessert for lunch: a delicious lemon scone with a pot of tea one day, and a slice of Banoffee pie with tea another. (Yes, it’s fairly easy to eat gluten-free in my ancestral homeland.)

Some days I got in more steps as we were free to explore cities on foot. Other days I spent hours at a time on the coach, sometimes falling prey to jet lag, which affects me more when I travel in that direction than when coming home.

When I returned home, I found I had gained 2 pounds, an easy amount to lose, but I had lost nothing in stamina.

I Learned I Need Time to Rest

The departure from my routine got me thinking. Maybe my body needed a break from my relentless demands on it. Maybe I should allow myself a day of recovery on Sundays after church—you know, that whole Sabbath thing. So I began to do just that.

Now the watch stays near the charging station on Sundays, as well as when I’m traveling.. I allow any exercise I get to be organic, whether from being outside with my dog or going somewhere with my friends or loved ones. I don’t overindulge, but I also don’t deny myself a treat. Then come Monday or the day after I’m done traveling, I’m rested and ready to get back into my well-worn groove.

Yes, God has given us stewardship of our bodies, which are temples of His Holy Spirit. But He has also given us a world to enjoy. By all means you should find your perfect fit on your path to fitness. But also find balance as an exercise in showing grace to yourself and obedience in seeking regular rest.